HC Deb 13 June 1961 vol 642 cc184-5
20. Mr. Dodds

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what restrictions have been eased by Spain in its dealings with Gibraltar during the last few months, giving the date each took effect.

Mr. H. Fraser

The easing of frontier restrictions in June of last year for holders of United Kingdom and colonial passports was followed on 28th February this year by the Spanish authorities abolishing triptyques for foreign cars entering Spain. This concession has also been applied at the Gibraltar land frontier. Since then the Spanish customs authorities on the land frontier have also stopped recording the names of drivers. The net effect has been to reduce substantially the time spent in crossing the frontier at La Linea.

Mr. Dodds

But is the Under-Secretary really proud of this? Does he appreciate that there was a general relaxation on passports for the British Commonwealth and that statements by himself, the Prime Minister and the Lord Privy Seal are exasperating the people in Gibraltar? Why do the Government not tackle the real things that are harming Gibraltar so much? Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the people of Spain, which is a Catholic country, will not allow their footballers to play in Gibraltar and yet a Spanish team is playing in a basket-ball competition in Russia and other countries? Is it not time that this unfriendly act against Gibraltar was looked upon as an unfriendly act against the British Commonwealth?

Mr. Fraser

I am sure that what my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal said yesterday is correct and that the best chance of improving this thoroughly unsatisfactory situation at the moment is to improve our friendship with the Spanish Government.

Mr. Dudley Williams

Will the Under-Secretary bear in mind that while there has been a relaxation on the entry of United Kingdom citizens into Gibraltar, similar relaxation has not taken place where nationals of other Commonwealth countries are concerned, and that they are restricted, in effect, to coming to Gibraltar through La Linea once in three months? Will my hon. Friend press our Ambassador in Madrid to make certain that this relaxation is applied generally to Commonwealth subjects?

Mr. Fraser

As the Lord Privy Seal said yesterday, both the Foreign Secretary and our Ambassador have raised this question with the Spanish Government.

Mr. Callaghan

May we not have an assurance from the hon. Gentleman that the future of Gibraltar will not be bartered for the friendship of Spain?

Hon. Members


Mr. Callaghan

May we please have a proper answer?

Mr. Fraser

The answer to that supplementary question is that, of course, we stand absolutely firm on our position in Gibraltar.

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